(Goblin is 23 months old)
Anyone who has concerns about toddlers and germs should probably stop reading this post right now.
I have been trying to encourage Goblin to get involved in caring for our pets. He has always liked the kitty and tries to cuddle him all the time. I thought I'd try and get him to feed Kitty in the mornings. But the cans of food we use have a ringpull that is too stiff for Goblin to manage, and the lid when pulled off is razor sharp and the food gets stuck in the can and needs a good shake to get it loose before it will plop into the bowl. So after several attempts, which ended in food all up the walls and on the floor but not in the bowl, I have pretty much abandoned this plan for the time being.
But I have had more success with Goblin feeding the guineapigs. Since he was about 16 months I have entrusted him with carrying the food bowls from the shed to the cage. He carries them really carefully and tries not to spill the nuggets. Recently I decided to get him involved in cleaning them out.
We have five so they need cleaning out at least once a week (they have the run of the garden so they don't get as stinky as they would if they were caged up). Cleaning them out involves scraping the poop out of the cage into a big bucket, carrying the bucket to the compost bin and emptying it, filling the cage with new straw, filling the food bowls and repeating with the eglu (we used to have chickens and I kept the eglu and now use it for the guineapigs).Goblin always hovers around when I am cleaning them out anyway, so I bought him his own trowel and showed him how to scrape poop.
Goblin likes carrying the bucket to the compost bin and once I have heaved it up he helps tip it over the edge.
The clean straw smells lovely and Goblin likes playing with it, so it quite often ends up around the garden as well as in the cages.
I like the idea of getting Goblin used to caring for our pets at a young age. And he seems to enjoy the responsibility too.